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Ezekiel 33-39. Changes and Preparations Necessary for the Blessed Future. Now that the security of Israel for the days to come is guaranteed by the destruction of the foreign nations, the mood of the prophet changes— the old rebellious house” ( Ezekiel 2:5) gives place to “ the children of my people” ( Ezekiel 33:2)— and he passes on to his programme of reconstruction. The turning-point is constituted by the definite announcement of the fall of Jerusalem brought to Babylon by one who had escaped ( Ezekiel 33:21). Ezekiel’ s gloomy threats, so long ignored or disbelieved, have at last been fulfilled; his prophetic reputation is confirmed; and he is now free to utter his message of hope and promise, to prepare his people, and to help them to prepare themselves, for the blessed future, with its restoration and reorganisation of Israel, which he so confidently anticipates. The first and fundamental item on his programme is the
Need of a Deepened Sense of Personal Responsibility (Ezekiel 33), and this alike for himself and his hearers.
Ezekiel 33:1-9 . He feels that he is responsible for them, and that they are responsible for themselves. He compares himself, as once before ( Ezekiel 3:16-21), to a watchman whose duty is to raise the alarm in case of impending danger; so it is his, in view of the crisis, to care for and warn individual souls.
Ezekiel 33:10-20 . But the people are despondent, stupefied by the news of the fall of the city ( Ezekiel 33:21), sullenly at last admitting their guilt, but believing themselves to lie under the irrevocable ban of their past. This is the mood which Ezekiel sets himself strenuously to combat. This he does by telling them ( a) that God is gracious and yearns not for the destruction but for the conversion of the sinner; ( b) that the important thing is not what a man has been, but what he is and what he allows himself to become; ( c) that it is possible for him to “ turn” and live, and that, when once he has been warned, the responsibility is his, so that it is idle to challenge the Divine ways as inequitable. In all this there is surely a very real gospel ( cf. with the whole passage, ch. 18).
Ezekiel 33:21-29 . This message of comfort to the exiles stands in striking contrast with the word of doom announced against those who were allowed to remain in occupation of Judah after the fall of the city. News of this event, which reached the exiles six months after it took place, confirmed Ezekiel’ s predictions, established his reputation as a true prophet ( Ezekiel 33:30), and enabled him to declare his message from this time on without sense of restraint. Those in the homeland whom he denounces regarded themselves as the children of Abraham, and true heirs of the land. But their violent and immoral life (the mention of the “ sword” in Ezekiel 33:26 perhaps points to their being implicated in the assassination of Gedaliah; cf. Jeremiah 41) shows that they are no true children of Abraham: and they will pay the penalty in another desolating invasion of the land (a threat fulfilled by the invasion of 581 B.C.; cf. Jeremiah 52:30).
Ezekiel 33:30-33 . A vivid picture is here presented of the popularity now enjoyed by Ezekiel, and of the pleasant impression he made. But he is too earnest to be misled by these things; for, though the people listen, they do not heed. Lies are in their mouths (so LXX in Ezekiel 33:31) and their heart is set on gain: and once again they will learn how true his stern word has been.
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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Ezekiel 33". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter